MLS: RSL defender Wingert impresses in return to the starting lineup
Sandy •Â Chris Wingert was about 30 yards from goal when he squared up and fired a rising shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
"Maybe a bit ambitious," the veteran defender, who has one goal in his Major League Soccer career, said with a grin. "I could have just played it to [teammate Javier Morales]. I had to apologize afterward."
It may have been the only apology Wingert owed after playing a solid game in his first match back in Real Salt Lake's starting lineup this year.
"He doesn't miss a beat," goalkeeper Nick Rimando said after the 2-0 shutout victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. "He gave us that confidence we needed, that boost we needed after that loss last weekend."
Wingert broke a bone in his right foot while training with his college team during the offseason. He had surgery late last year and missed RSL's first seven matches as he rehabbed from the injury.
The veteran was placed in the RSL 18 for two straight weeks before finally breaking back into the starting lineup against the Whitecaps.
"It felt great," Wingert said of his return. "That's why you play. ... We're playing to play in the first-team games and to be out there and try to help the team earn points. My whole focus this past [four months] was to be back out there."
Rimando called Saturday night's win the team's best defensive performance of the year, and Wingert's presence certainly helped in that. The left back got himself in good position to intercept passes and made several quality tackles.
RSL coach Jason Kreis, for one, was happy with the performance.
"I was really pleased to have him out there," Kreis said. "He's a steadying influence on the rest of the group."
Wingert's shot, however, could use a little work.
"I got under it too much," he said. "I'm disappointed in myself."